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Letter by Dr Shimon Samuels published in The Jerusalem Post
21 March 2022

21 March 2022 1 blog
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a special session
of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Ukraine at the UN in Geneva
earlier this month (photo Denis Balibouse/Reuters).

Madam Michelle Bachelet,

In 2009, you became president of Chile. Around the same date, as the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief delegate to the United Nations in Geneva, I was addressing an NGO preparatory session for the second Durban Review Conference.

Our associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, and I had been at the Durban UN World Conference against Racism in 2001 to combat racism. Indeed, we found every true issue of racial intolerance and discrimination hijacked for a campaign of antisemitic agitation.

As Jews, we went with a sense of collective responsibility to seek solidarity among all victims of racism, but encountered a barrage of hatred and violence unheard of since the Holocaust. Our sister organizations in the anti-racist movement, with few exceptions, were marked by their silence, bowing to an agenda set through intimidation.

Any NGO that incites to conspiracy theories, identity theft – such as distorting the Holocaust or antisemitism to suit political revisionism – or the redefinition of apartheid for demonization and delegitimization, must be considered an agent of racism. As such, its accreditation to the UN should be disqualified.

21 March 2022 2 blog
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends the special session
of the UN Human Rights Council, on the situation in Ukraine at the United Nations, in Geneva,
Switzerland, March 3, 2022 (photo Reuters/Denis Balibouse).

In your race for the Chilean presidency, you were asked to fire your campaign manager Eugenio Tuma, for his claims on television that young Israeli backpackers were actually soldiers mapping the area for creating another Israel. He had quoted an admirer of Hitler, Chilean Ambassador Miguel Serrano, and believed in the Andinia Plan, a Latin American version of the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Madam High Commissioner, please note that anti-Israel and anti-Zionism endangers Jews around the world. Indeed, the recent election in Chile saw a deep polarization between two candidates: an extreme-right-wing son of a Nazi official in Hitler’s Germany, versus an extreme-left anti-Zionist, whose leading guest at his presidential inauguration was the antisemitic former leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn.

The assassinated Argentine prosecutor – and personal friend – Alberto Nisman, in his work on the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish Center bombing implicating Iran, revealed the presence of Hezbollah sleepers in nine Latin-American countries, including Chile.

At every meeting of the Human Rights Council, the infamous Item 7 – on “Palestine and other Arab Territories” – is de facto an exercise against Israel that holds repercussions. To be presented again next 24 March, Item 7 transplants the conflict to Arab communities worldwide, especially to Chile, which holds the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East.

This is exacerbated by the fact that it singles out the Jewish state, while Item 8 deals with the rest of the world. The situation is worsened even more by the open-ended “Commission of Inquiry” (COI) into the “Grave Human Rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel,” that will present its reports in June and in September 2022.

Madam High Commissioner, several of your statements could be construed by hatemongers for their antisemitic attacks: likening your political exile in Europe to the situation of Palestinians unable to return to Israel; or affirming that Israeli strikes on Gaza may be war crimes.

We will be seeking cases of Palestinian terror among those reported by the COI.

Sadly, not enough is done regarding human rights abuses and war crimes by Russia in Ukraine, Iran’s murder of demonstrators, journalists or homosexuals, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the ongoing genocide in Syria and the plight of the Uighurs in China.

Only Israel – and by association, the Jews – are treated as the Devil incarnate.

The writer is director for international relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.